The Persian Gulf state of Qatar said on Monday that it had identified the mother of a newborn baby that was found abandoned in a trash can at Doha’s Hamad International Airport last month. The public prosecutor said the baby girl was rescued from “what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her.” The child remains in the care of social services and is said to be healthy and well.
The incident created a diplomatic spat with Australia after officials subjected at least 13 innocent women to “grossly offensive” strip searches and intimate vaginal exams. In an attempt to find the perpetrator, airport authorities ordered women off a number of flights and forced them into waiting ambulances where they were told to take off their underwear.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani eventually apologised to the women who were caught up in the investigation, saying an initial investigation had concluded that officials didn’t follow standard operating procedures and had broken the law. Several police officers have since been charged but officials did not say what crimes they are accused of or how many officers actually face legal action.
On Monday, Qatar’s public prosecution office said the mother who originates from an “Asian country’ had now been identified although she is no longer in Qatar and efforts are still underway to arrest and possibly extradite her back to Doha.
The woman faces up to 15-years in prison and has been described as a “convict” suggesting a trial has already taken place. Thousands of migrant workers from South Asia live and work in Qatar, many as domestic workers.
“Investigations revealed that the infant’s mother… threw the newborn infant in the trash can in one of the toilets in the departures lounge at the airport and boarded the plane to her destination,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office explained.
“(The mother) had a relationship with another person of the nationality of one of the Asian countries as well, and this relationship resulted in the infant that was found,” the statement continued. “The father of the infant admitted that he had a relationship with the infant’s mother, and that she had sent him a message and a photo of the newborn infant immediately after her birth.”
On Sunday, one of the women caught up in the “illegal” search for the suspect spoke for the first time to Australia’s Channel Nine current affairs show 60 Minutes. Going only by the pseudonym of Jane, the woman said that the “frightening” experience had made her feel like a “criminal”.
“I had to pull [my underwear] down and it was just incredibly invasive. I was terrified and I was humiliated,” Jane told the programme. “I remember laying there thinking, ‘This isn’t right. This is not how this should be happening. This isn’t how this should be done,'” she continued.
Jane was travelling home with her husband to see family and friends after living and working in London for the past three years.
The incident has led to an uproar in Australia with Prime Minister Scott Morrison describing what happened as “unaccpetable” and “appalling”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.